According to the Oxford dictionary, fast is defined as “moving or capable of moving at high speed.” But what does being fast as a runner really mean? How fast is running fast? It took me 27 minutes to race 5k the other week, my non-running friends called it “fast” and congratulated me. My other friend ran the 5k in 18 minutes, I called it “fast” and congratulated him. But the winner of the race, ran it in 16 minutes. That too, is “fast.”
When I first started running at small races when I was 16, I ran a 5k race in 24 minutes and was considered “fast” as I placed in my age group/gender. The year after, I attended larger races with 1000 instead of 400 runners. This time, I was seconds slower than the year before but I didn’t place. I was still near the “top” of my age and gender group but the other girls were faster. Then, as the years went by, I started entering races with thousands of runners and since then, I haven’t placed. I trained consistently but I was still not as fast as other girls in my age group. But my friends continued to support me and congratulate me for being “fast” at races.
As I’ve grown, I started keeping track of winners of races and following elite runners on twitter and their blogs. Then when those elite and sub-elite runners post about their runs and I see the non-nonchalant way they state that they just ran a sub-15 5k or how it just took them 45 minutes to do an easy 10k training run, it makes me reconsider what “fast” really means. I am in awe because I really can’t imagine myself running as “fast” as they did. So does that make me slow? Maybe to those elite runners, those times are just regular times that they crank out regularly as they train whereas I’d probably kill myself trying to go at that speed. Sometimes you just can’t help but compare your time to the elites and it may bum you out or you can use it as motivation to work harder. I always have to tell myself that I’m running for myself. The times I achieve are for myself. There’s always going to be someone faster than me to compare myself to but at the end of the day, I’m running for myself. My time might not be considered as “fast” for someone else, it’s a great time for me. It’s the time I’ve trained hard for and dammit, I’m going to be proud of it!
What do you consider as “fast?” Do you find that you compare yourself to others a lot? How do you remedy that?